Interview with Aki Matsukura

Is it due to heightened interest in anime or manga or wanting to visit Japan or be employed in Japan? Whatever the reason, the number of people wanting to learn the Japanese language has increased steadily through the years. In this interview, we feature one of our Japanese language instructors to find out more about her background and what type of students come to learn Japanese.

Could you tell us about your background?

After graduating from university, I worked for a publishing company specializing in educational materials for 9 years. It was a very challenging and rewarding job, but one day a TV drama inspired me to change my career and become a Japanese language instructor. My interest in teaching Japanese to foreigners grew to a point where I decided to take a training program for teachers. After completing the program, I was able to successfully shift my career. Since then, I have been teaching students with different nationalities, ages and learning objectives at various Japanese language institutions. I realize now that the number of years in my career as a Japanese language teacher has exceeded the one in the publishing company. Meeting new students always provides me with fresh discoveries.

What courses do you teach? — How can these courses help students and in what field?

The courses I teach at TUJ range from total beginner levels to advanced for those who need to speak Japanese both in their daily lives and in the workplace. In beginner classes, I try to make students feel comfortable and get used to learning the Japanese language. Step by step, my aim is to provide students in every class with a better sense of achievement and confidence in speaking Japanese. In intermediate classes, we review what was covered in the beginner level and practice to enhance vocabulary. A unique combination of courses, such as Grammar and Speaking, Reading and Speaking are offered for the intermediate level students. I also teach other courses specializing in business conversation and JLPT preparation as well.

Do you know of any success stories of students who took your course?

Many students who completed the JLPT preparation course contacted me with great news that they passed the exam. Other students gaining confidence through class participation started speaking in Japanese without hesitation, which also facilitated better communication with their Japanese friends and colleagues. This inspires me to continue teaching!

What backgrounds do your students have?

The majority of students are working professionals who cannot always attend class due to their busy schedules or business trips. While juggling work commitments, they are very active in class with high motivation, speaking out their opinions and taking notes enthusiastically. They also enjoy communicating with classmates from different nationalities and backgrounds.

Motto

一期一会 (ichigo ichie - a zen phrase meaning "one opportunity, one encounter")